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A Post about Sleep

 

When Butterfly sleeps on my bed, instead of on the floor, or the bathmat, or the rug, etc, she sleeps next to my head, stretched out against her pillow, kicking me in the face. She may have restless paw syndrome.

Here she is, getting ready to kick Cricket in the face.

Here she is, getting ready to kick Cricket in the face.

Cricket is less of a kicker and more of a body blocker. She prefers to sleep either on top of me, so I can’t move, or squashed up against my back and gradually pushing me off the bed. I don’t (quite) believe that her intention is to do me bodily harm, she just doesn’t like to wake up and find even a whisper of space between us, so she keeps encroaching until I have nowhere left to go.

Cricket is a very good sleeper, as long as she's attached to a person.

Cricket is a very good sleeper, as long as she’s attached to a person.

There was a spate of articles recently about how having a dog sleep on your bed makes for bad sleeping. It is, actually, possible that having Butterfly kick my head interrupts my ability to sleep well, but I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never slept well. I take Benadryl or Tylenol pm every night just to get to sleep, and I seem to fling myself around a lot while I’m sleeping. I gave up on using a top sheet because it always ended up wrapped around my feet or dumped on the floor.

As a kid, I would stare up at the ceiling tiles and follow the swirls with my eyes, like walking a labyrinth, trying to put myself to sleep, but it didn’t work. Then I’d start counting down from a hundred and then down from a thousand. I spent a lot of time counting small, fluffy sheep, which might explain why I have two small fluffy white dogs now.

Counting fluffy puppies.

Counting fluffy puppies.

I feel better knowing the girls are nearby, either on the bed or next to it, because I imagine they could protect me from harm, or at least wake me up in time to protect myself. And it’s a relief to know that if I’m up at 3am, one of the dogs will notice and come to visit.

I sleep better during the day. I would be much happier with a series of naps throughout the day instead of one long sleep at night. My dreams during the daytime naps are usually less ferocious than night time dreams. The light in the room seeps into the dream, and other noises like lawn mowers and traffic and fire engines, seem to make lighter dreams as opposed to the deafening silence of the nighttime.

It’s probably fair to say that I am afraid of the dark. I’m not particularly frightened by rats or spiders or even snakes, but any one of those things crawling near me in the dark could give me a heart attack. Though puppies never scare me, no matter what time of day.

Even this face couldn't scare me.

Even this face couldn’t scare me.

My ideal of sleep would be that I could put my head down on my pillow and feel cozy and comfortable, and with no effort at all, and no long list of anxieties for the next day, I could just fall asleep. And then I would remain asleep and maybe dream of some pleasant vacation where people are smiling and happy, and everyone likes me, and I like everyone. And then I’d wake up, after a full night’s rest, and I’d feel refreshed and comfortable, not in pain, and I’d be happy and looking forward to the day to come.

I’ve had that once or twice, so I know that it’s possible. It’s just not especially probable.

There’s a computer in my brain that keeps track of the unconscious work that needs to be done overnight, and either its processors are not working at full speed, or, more likely, there is too much work to do in the allotted time, so I often wake up exhausted and feeling like there’s something I was supposed to do, but I have no idea what it is. Luckily, that’s when the dogs come to tell me it’s time to go outside, and then it’s time for treats and playing, and by then I’m awake and things are looking up.

 

"Are you up yet?"

“Are you up yet?”

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

121 responses »

  1. As always, your posts are great and entertaining. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  2. That picture of Cricket smiling is so cute! Parker sleeps with me–on my feet or against my leg. I miss her if she’s not there and I do sleep better–I can actually stretch my legs! But I feel better with her on the bed with me. Oh dear, Rachel–I do wish you had sweet dreams at night. You know your little girls will protect their mommy. Such a great post.

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  3. Oh Rachel, I feel as though you are describing so much of my nighttime experiences, it’s uncanny! I have one tiny pooch (Quintana) who manages to roll all of the sleep qualities of your pups into one little body … fortunately my slightly bigger boy, Quetzal, is good about giving me space, because I don’t have much left on the bed after Quinnie has crowded me to the edge!

    I’ve just discovered your writings and I’m loving them … I look forward to reading the archives along with the new postings … they are delightful 🙂

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  4. Definitely agree that daytime naps should be a practice required by law, or widely accepted nevertheless… are those adorable doggies Bichon Frise’s? I had one who wasn’t completely white…Rusty-i still miss my little doggie, even a decade later… dogs, like friends, leave a long lasting imprint n your heart!

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  5. Made me cry, for some reason. I am sure though that people’s lives would be so much less without puppies. Another wonderful post.

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  6. My dog Camila used to sleep behind my pillow, on top of my head. I loved that! Beautiful pictures of your dogs!

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  7. My mini poodle likes to ‘spoon’ with me. And if I happen to turn my back on him, he curls up against my neck.

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  8. Excellent post, Rachel. And oh, how I can relate! Our little dog sleeps with us, and though he’s not necessarily a “kicker,” he does eventually end up sleeping by our heads (he starts under the covers, but gets too hot, pants, and pops out). I like knowing he’s there, just as I like having our cats cuddled up beside us. I’ve read articles that say you shouldn’t sleep with your dog (or cat, I suppose), but I’m not buying it. Like you, I want our fur babies near. 🙂

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  9. The three of us arrange our bodies so They have to pretzel to find room. However, if we’re not there, They can’t sleep because something’s missing.

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  10. Lovely post and delightful pictures! And I can relate to it. Our little rescue poodle sleeps (and snores) right now sideways on the bed …

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  11. Max sleeps with us but he always positions himself so we get to enjoy dog butt in the face. Every. single. time.

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  12. Sam’s a major bed hog. Curls up in a tiny ball in HIS bed but stretches out in mine. Mostly I don’t mind. I love it when he ‘dog dreams.’ Makes me smile every time.

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    • The dog I had before Cricket came along was forty-five pounds of black lab mix and she could stretch herself out to cover the whole bed, on a diagonal, so that I was allowed barely a corner for myself. And she refused to sleep without leaning on some part of me. Ah, love.

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  13. Seeing the dogs sleep in their different positions is fascinating. Have watched how their paws will move as in thier dreams they are running?

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    • Butterfly makes these desperate squeaky noises when she’s dreaming and I have to stop myself from waking her up. I don’t want those dinosaur-sized squirrels to get her in her sleep!

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  14. This post made me smile. Our dogs love sleeping on the bed, although we don’t let them all the time… They totally trap us under the covers, and although they start at the foot end, they migrate upwards during the night! Love the first photo – I’m most impressed at Butterfly and Cricket’s ability to lie next to a packet of jerky without ripping it to shreds!

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    • The girls are surprisingly polite around treats, not so around human food.Though if the bag of treats were empty, Cricket would be screeching and running and trying to stuff her face inside the bag.

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  15. Chicki likes to sleep right next to a person, whether it be on ones lap or on the bed. 🙂 You can tell when she is dreaming. 🙂

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  16. you have the cutest furbabies ever! sleeping dogs are wonderful aren’t they?

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  17. sleep well……… all of you

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  18. I enjoy reading your blog!

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  19. They are allowed to sleep on the bed! Wow… I am not allowed to do that (only in the campervan). But maybe they help you getting through the night – they don’t look like ferocious guarding dogs to me, but they probably help you to fight the night monsters! That is good.

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  20. OOOOh I get the no sleep blues 😦 Love Cricket’s sleep face 🙂

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  21. They like to just kind of take over like they are allowing you a little space. The little tongue is adorable.

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  22. I know of people who cringe at the thought of Maggie sleeping on our bed. It’s not unusual to find her curled up between us, head under one of our armpits, and backside under the others (no guessing as to who gets the rear). Saying that though, I find it reassuring to have her curled up behind my knees at night.
    Hubby knows exactly where you’re coming from with the pushouts.
    She puts her back against me and her legs against him and pushes, then gives a contented grunt and rolls over! Great post Rachel 🙂

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  23. Millie always starts off sleeping next to me, but takes herself off to another room after an hour or so, probably because I thrash about so much. I have trouble sleeping, as well – silently repeating a mantra sometimes helps, or taking my attention out of my head and into my body.

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  24. Lots of things go into “a good nights sleep” —- Like a clear conscience. Are you making sure Butterfly and Cricket have all the snacks they want? Private note to Butt & Cric – if you don’t get enough goodies try licking the soles of your humans feet while they try to sleep. Drives them crazy and it works for me.

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  25. I’m very fortunate to be a good sleeper. I could sleep just about anywhere and can generally fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly. Our dogs are not allowed on the bed. In fact they don’t come upstairs to the bedroom. They’re OK with this. They like to sleep on the floor most of the time, even over a dog bed. However, the cats like to sleep with us. Shadow likes to but curled up by my chest and Phyllis likes to wrap herself around my head and purr me to sleep.

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  26. Why not nap. The (almost) rest of the world take naps it’s that whole life work balance that America is just learning. Sleep when tired. Holly sleeps up against my daughters back with a pillow for her head 🙂 I don’t sleep but have found meditation and it sounds silly but feng shui for the bedroom works a tad.

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  27. Rachel, You are not alone in your inability to court sleep. I do my best thinking in the middle of the night. I wrote a post a few years ago about sleep patterns. We all have, and it has been normal for centuries, a “first sleep”. Usually lasting a couple of hours, but it varies. Then wakefulness for awhile before drifting off again. People begin to worry as they wake and then our nighttime monsters begin their dance. Your puppies are a good bridge between the altered states.
    Kayti

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    • I used to only write overnight when I couldn’t sleep. I’d do twenty pages, of whatever, and then do my homework for school, then watch some terrible movie. But I had to go to school in the morning, so it didn’t work out so well.

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  28. Our dogs always slept on the bed with us. Usually at the foot, atop our legs, which did make it hard to turn over! But we loved having them near.

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  29. When Riley slept on the bed, she was a good bedmate — always used the foot of the bed. Xander was the consummate bed hog.

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  30. The pain is what is causing some of your sleep problem. I have the same problem and I don’t take pain killers. My son came to spend the weekend with me and he heard me get up one morning groaning and ouching and the next thing I knew he had a new bed delivered. It did make some improvement but… I been painting my home on the outside and you would think I would sleep great right? Nope I am having a terrible time sleeping. Because of the pain. I also have to fall asleep with the tv on so I can listen to it and not think. If i don’t have the tv on my brain will not stop thinking and I never fall asleep. Now the dogs well Midnight sleeps right in that spot in my back that hurts and her body has a lot of heat so that works well for me. She doesn’t push tight against me to move me. BabyGirl sleeps at the foot of the bed because she is on Guard. BabyGirl is a really good guard dog and I like knowing not anyone will be coming into my house and not getting hurt. I am very short so that also works well for me for her to be at the foot of the bed. The paw moving is Butterfly dreaming. Both my dogs do it and BabyGirl wags her tail a lot when she is sound asleep. A few times after my Felix 1996-2011 passing BabyGirl gave out such mournful cries when she was sound asleep. You seem to have more problem sleeping with you tiny dogs than I have with my big dogs lol

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    • This is why I need a Golden Doodle. For some reason the co-op board prefers small dogs. I happen to think the back yard is big enough to accommodate a pony, or at least a pony-sized dog.

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  31. Keep on cuddlin’! I have won the Battle of the Bed. Dad doesn’t try to kick me out anymore…Woof!

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  32. Maybe I would sleep better if I had never got a dog.. As it is, I can’t sleep at all if he’s not at least in the room.

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  33. The contented snoring of my old Cavalier is so soothing that it always sends me back to sleep. Moke xx

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  34. It felt like Deja vu on reading your blog coz my Dalmatian, Sandy, is just like that, sleeps against me with her body pressed tightly.
    Maybe you should tire yourself out during the day for you to get a good night’s sleep. Play a game of badminton or basket ball in the evening or go for a long walk. Drinking a glass of milk before bed also helps. It has tryptophan which induces sleep.

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  35. I’ve had a sleep disorder since I was 8 years old and, yes, I’ve also read that sleeping with animals doesn’t help. That being said, I went to bed last night flanked by Loki and UB, with 3 cats purring all around me. I’m comforted by touching them all, even if I’m not especially wee rested.

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  36. does she fart when she sleeps near your head. Momwithoutpaws would not like that. She says dadwithoutpaws is bad enought 😀

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  37. I don’t know how Jack survives with me as a sleeping partner, I sleep like the dead, I don’t thrash around but I do turn from time to time. I wish that you had an easier time with sleeping.

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    • Thank you! Cricket’s answer to my moving around is to hold her ground as long as possible. She usually wins and I end up sleeping like a pretzel.

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      • I wish that I could send you some of my sleeping abilities, but I know that Cricket would not be appreciative, I would bet that she would be put out if you slept as soundly as I do. I feel bad for Jack poor thing.lol

  38. I can defiinitely relate here. I sleep with Sophie (my wonderful companion Shorkie) and two cats. Sophie eventually finds a spot cuddled back to back against my neck and shoulders. She is definitely my protector overnight, and I value that. If she barks I honor her by getting up and patrolling the house ( a tri-level) with a pepper gas device and the phone; not that I am really concerned (though you can never be too prepared) but to show her I take her service to heart. She likes that. My cat Loki settles down on a towel by my head on the bed beside me, and he stays in place all night. Once he awoke me w=from sleep apnea when I was on my back and having a NDE–I might have stopped breathing but I woke to Loki wiping at my nose intently. Emily is more easily disturbed by my tossing and turning, so she waits til morning to find a place in the bend of my knees before our breakfast routine begins. Routine is what it’s all about!

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  39. They look so cute when sleeping , always seem to dream making a running movement.
    Chasing Rabbits here my Lucy I guess my Lurcher.
    Lovely post Rachel
    Sheila x

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  40. Tweeted this delightful, interesting post 🙂

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  41. Mumsy's Little Chancy Man

    I am so sorry you have sleep difficulties. I can well identify with what you say about sweet Cricket. Chancy sleeps glued to me, I move he pushes himself against my body and slides down my back until his body rests on the bed…no way he could get any closer to me. lol Your sweet girls are just so cute, every time I come to your blog and see them i can’t help but smile. Hugs and nose kisses for you all from Chancy, the kitties and me!

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  42. My friends say I sleep with one eye open and it’s true in some level. I’m always aware of what’s happening around me and my deep sleep is filled with some bad dreams. Maybe that’s why I automatically sleep half aware!! Past few months however, I’ve been practicing one of Mindfulness meditation breathing techniques which has been very helpful:
    http://www.uvm.edu/~CHWB/psych/?Page=exercises.html&SM=mindfulnessmenu.html
    or http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22.
    It’s like chanting and ordering your muscles to be relax and restful. In the beginning, knowing my stubborn muscles, I was skeptical but after a few months, seems my stubborn mind has tamed my stubborn body or visa versa!

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    • I don’t do that well with meditation, but I just read a book about Gregorian chant, which is really a mix of chant and music and prayer, and it sounded like a beautiful thing. Though ti probably only works if you chant with a group. I guess I can’t invite a choir over to my house to put me to sleep each night. Or can I?

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  43. Wow, Rachel – you are really Pethetic! 🙂

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  44. Tweeted this and the previous post, Rachel 🙂

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  45. The Man wouldn’t sleep on the bed because it’s too high for him and Chienne sleeps curled up at the bottom.

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  46. I think you should write a children’s book with Butterfly and Cricket. Or a book about counting fluffy puppies instead of sheep. I will pre-order an autographed copy! ❤

    Reply

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